In a purported sneer at the BJP, its NDA partner and election ally in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena on Monday raked up the issue of patriotism and the alleged branding of individuals and groups as “anti-national”, especially after the Balakot air strikes carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Patriotism is not the monopoly of a single party and falsely calling people “anti-national” just because they are political opponents is nothing but suppression of freedom of expression, the Sena said.
Interestingly, Sena’s remarks have come a day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the dates for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019.
“Patriotism is not the monopoly of a single party…we wonder when politicians will understand that the action (air strike) was part of duty (of soldiers) and not a task asked to be carried out,” read the editorial in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana.
Those demanding proof of the air strike and the ones seeking votes donning military fatigues are equally wrong, the Sena said, referring to Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari who wore military fatigues at a recent election rally.
The Sena said it was an insult to the soldiers and their courage.
“Why act frivolously by wearing soldiers’ uniforms which they have obtained after rigorous training and hard work? It supports the allegations of the Opposition that the BJP is politicising the air strike,” said the Sena.
“We have basically failed to prevent the casualties of our soldiers, but some wear the camouflage (outfits) and campaign for political reasons. It doesn’t look good when the Election Commission has to intervene and ask the political parties not to use images of jawans in political campaigns,” it said.
The ECI had, on Saturday, issued a directive to political parties and candidates to not use photographs or any imagery depicting the defence personnel for their election campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
The party’s remarks come amid a row over the politicisation of the Balakot air strike.
(With PTI inputs)